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Introducing dogs to chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by oreochicks, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. oreochicks

    oreochicks Hatching

    Nov 19, 2011
    Hi, I have 5 chicks that are 9 weeks old. They have been out in the yard for a few weeks now. We hatched them in the incubator and our dog slept in the same room with them, mostly protecting them the whole time. We were very careful when we introduced her to the chicks in the out of doors, and she quickly became their watch dog, often herding them around and barking at possible predators like the hawk who tried to grab one. Recently, in the last week, she has decided that they are fun to chase. She hasn't hurt them (yet), she has cornered one and then just sniffs it and licks it a lot. The chicks didn't used to be scared of her but now they are terrified. They have a tractor in the yard but during the day we let them free range about the yard.

    I'm wondering if anyone has training tips on how to train dogs to get used to chickens and how to get them to not chase them. Like I said she did really well for the first 8 weeks, this is a strange change in behavior. Thanks!

  2. BrokenRoadFarm

    BrokenRoadFarm Chirping

    Jun 10, 2011
    North Central NC
    We don't let our dogs near the chickens....not willing to risk it. [​IMG] Sometimes the dogs will go down to the run and look at them...but we don't let them linger. And if the chickens are out in their tractor, the dogs are in the house. Some people are comfortable with letting them all run around together...I don't think our dogs would intentionally hurt them, but there is the risk of an accident - dogs stepping on a chicken, or picking them up with their teeth too hard...I won't allow it with mine...
  3. TrystInn

    TrystInn Songster

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    How well does your dog have basic obedience training down pat? If they respond well to Leave It, you'll likely do pretty well keeping the dog on a leash and supervised while near the chickens for awhile. After a few weeks, if the dog is responding appropriately and ignoring the birds, you can begin supervision without the leash. Take it very slowly and keep an eye on the dog's body language.

    Our dogs are loose with our free range birds now and they are marvelous guardians. We only pen the bantams and that's due to the large number of loose neighborhood cats, though the Bassets are very good at running them off.


  4. oreochicks

    oreochicks Hatching

    Nov 19, 2011
    Thanks for the responses. I think going back to the leash is the best option at this point and doing a lot of training with her. She does respond very well to commands (usually) especially leave it. I've got faith that she can overcome the desire to chase them [​IMG] Funny thing, we recently acquired a puppy and she won't let the puppy near them. Funny dog.

    Here she is with them a few weeks ago
  5. TheJuan-n-Only

    TheJuan-n-Only Songster

    Sep 10, 2010
    I was very worried about my Hound/Sheperd mix due to her high hunting tendencies, however, after many hours spent on training and getting her used to the idea that the girls belong in the yard...she does great now. I do not let them out together for more than seconds because, after all they are animals and instincts can kick in at any time. With that said, my dogs do respond very well to basic commands....so maybe you want to focus on those with your puppy 1st!

    Here she is:

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  6. FiveHens

    FiveHens Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    I know that you don't want to "wait and see," but it could be that sniffing and licking is her way of caring for them. I say that because I think it would be weird for an initially protective dog to become aggressive all at once. On the other hand, it is probably useful for the chickens to develop a healtthy wariness of dogs...our dog would never hurt any of the chickens, but they always bolt when she comes near which is useful if we ever get strange dog visitors. Good luck!
  7. Grog

    Grog Chirping

    Oct 1, 2011
    Dogs are hunters. Chicken are prey. Chickens do prey things like scream, run, flap lots. All of those things can set off a dog's preditory instincts. That is not to say it will, just it could. I keep mine away from the birds at all costs. JMO

  8. jeepguy982001

    jeepguy982001 Songster

    Oct 4, 2011
    athens, wv
    i think it depends on the breed and also the individual dog. some dogs hunt some protect then u get mine who is just confused. I wouldnt trust him with chickens alone but he watches over them and is friendly. But it is funny my neighbor can hop the fence if i'm outside no big deal but if i jump to the neighbors side and they get near me i swear my dogs mixed with the devil ready to kill. lol he aggrevates the heck outtta me but he's half beagle half basset hound soo he is sure to let me know if anything gets in the yard
  9. Ldeal

    Ldeal Songster

    Sep 21, 2011
    Fallon, NV
    I believe it all depends on your dog and how well trained they are. I have 2 Pitbull/West Highland Terrier crosses. They are brother and sister and are 5 years old. They never met chickens before so when we introduced them slowly. They did get excited at first but quickly learned that they are there to protect. If another dog gets near them or tries to bother my girls my Buddy and Noodle let them know that that is not tolerated. I trust them with them but their sister is another story. She lives with my mom so I dont have to worry about her. So I believe it all depends on your dogs. Here is a picture of Noodle and my EE Rose.


    lol my only problem with my dogs is their love of the chickens food.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  10. dixieland

    dixieland Blue Eggs by the Bushel

    Oct 7, 2007
    Carthage, TN
    My terriers have proven to be the best chicken guardians ever. Everyone co exists very peacefully here, but in the event of a predator on the premises, the dogs will go after and usually kill the intruder... We have probably seen a few dozen chicken snakes, some small foxes, cats etc meet their demise outside of the chicken coop.
    Our dogs are all very thoroughly trained, and the head rooster and hen are brought out when they are puppies to teach them 'chicken manners'...
    That being said, my dogs do not herd... Herding behavior can be very scary to any prey animal.... So keep that in mind. How strong is your dog's herding instinct? You can modify this behavior a bit, but since it is instinctive, you can not in do it entirely.... I would start by doing lots of positive reinforcement for any good non herding behaviors around the chicks....
    I can give you tons more ideas, as I am a dog trainer. PM me if you need or want more input.

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